Does it refer to thousands of situations in the previous sentence?

"Dreyer's hospital is enthusiastically embracing the potential of AI to transform radiology. They've bulked up their computing power and are organizing their data to train algorithms. But there's a long road ahead. Artificial intelligence will need to be able to respond to thousands of situations to match the image interpretation that a radiologist does. Right now, Massachusetts General Hospital is focusing on 25 of them."

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2017/07/14/technology/business/radiology-doctors-artificial-intelligence/index.html


2 Answers 2


The answer is that "25 of them" refers to "25 situations"

It can be verified from this link, which states that Massachusetts General Hospital is focusing on training their Artificial Intelligence to respond to 25 common situations encountered at the radiology department.

But I had to google a specific set of keywords to arrive at this answer, because the sentence to me is ambiguous on whether the article was referring to 25 AIs or 25 situations because an AI(or neural network) generally is 'trained' based on the data of thousands of images in order to make it 'understand' how to respond whenever it sees a new image.

It's all pattern matching, really.

  • 3
    I don't think it's too ambiguous. To go from AI as a mass noun to "25 of them" seems quite a leap. Jul 17, 2017 at 12:16
  • It is ambiguous to me, a non-native English speaker and hence, I write. Might I also point out that the sentence you refer begins as, "Artificial intelligence will need to ..." and I view it as a collective noun(a.k.a mass noun) too, but I perceive the context as providing a description of the capabilities of a set, and then stating that 25 members of that set are located somewhere or being utilized for some purpose. Jul 17, 2017 at 12:37
  • But thank you for that perspective. @LukeSawczak Jul 17, 2017 at 12:37
  • Where is the answer? Jul 17, 2017 at 20:34
  • @P.E.Dant : Thank you for seeking clarification. You can now find it in the first line. Jul 18, 2017 at 4:03

You ask about 25 of them. The pronoun them refers to something plural, that is, a plural referent.

The natural plural referent of them is thousands of situations. Thus 25 of them refers to 25 of thousands of situations.

It's like when my mom threw away hundreds of my Barbie dolls. I rescued 12 of them; that is I rescued 12 of hundreds of my Barbie dolls that my mom threw away.

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